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King Rufus, The King of the Gobbos is watching the sunset descend over Gobbo Island. He notices a large basket containing a youthful crocodile floating on top of a nearby lake. The Gobbos raise him and train him to become one of their own. The crocodile, named Croc, eventually matures and becomes much larger than the Gobbos.
Suddenly, Baron Dante arrives and invades Gobbo Island with the help of his demons, the Dantinis. He imprisons many of the Gobbos, most notably King Rufus, whom he keeps in a large steel cage within his castle island. Before being kidnapped, King Rufus strikes a magical gong that summons a yellow bird called Beany. Beany uses teleportation to bring Croc to safety. Croc then goes on a quest to free all of the Gobbos and defeat Baron Dante himself.
Croc is a free-roaming game title, with Croc's movement differing slightly depending on whether players use the directional pad or the analog controller to control him. His main moves consist of a tail whip attack that can temporarily destroy enemies, and a hit drop used for smashing open crates (similar to a mechanic used in the Super Mario series). Croc also possess the ability to swim in select levels. Throughout the game Croc collects crystals which serve as health in a similar fashion to golden rings in Sonic the Hedgehog, meaning the player will lose a life if hit without holding any crystals in their inventory. Crystals retained at the end of a level are stored, with Croc gaining an extra life for every 100 he collects.
Progressing through the levels involves finding and hitting the Beany Gong at the end of the level to move onto the next, facing two bosses during each island. However, to fully complete the game, Croc has to rescue the captured Gobbos throughout each level. Each level contains six Gobbos, including one hidden behind a door at the end of the level. This Gobbo can only be released by collecting five colored crystals throughout the level. Collecting all the Gobbos before a boss level unlocks an extra level in which a Jigsaw Piece can be earned. When the player collects all of these pieces, a new island is opened up, leading to the game's final boss, Baron Dante, in crystal form.
Croc: Legend of the Gobbos started development as a 3D platform game Mario spinoff starring Yoshi that was intended to be made exclusively for Nintendo 64. Argonaut pitched the game to Nintendo but was rejected. This ended the relationship between the two companies that began with the development of Star Fox. Due to the game being rejected, Argonaut had to find other publishers to finance and publish the game. The Japanese publisher (Mitsui) selected the Sony PlayStation , the Sega Saturn, and PC as the platforms. The original contract focused on Sega but the market shifted and the Sony PlayStation became the primary platform. The game was executive produced at Argonaut by Jez San and John Edelson. The lead programmers were Lewis Gordon and Anthony Lloyd, and the lead designer was Nic Cusworth. Characters were designed by Simon Keating. The Yoshi game concept later served as an inspiration on the development of Super Mario 64, according to Argonaut. The music for Croc: Legend of the Gobbos was composed by Justin Scharvona, Karin Griffin, Martin Gwynn Jones and Richard Joseph.
Croc: Legend of the Gobbos received generally positive reviews on the PlayStation and Saturn, but more mixed reviews on the PC and Game Boy Color releases. Aggregating review website GameRankings gave the PlayStation version 79.14%, the Sega Saturn version 76.67%, the PC version 60.50% and the Game Boy Color version 54.00%. Praise went to the game's graphics, unique gameplay and music whilst criticisms went to the game's camera angles and repetition. In 2014, GamesRadar listed the game one of the best Sega Saturn games, stating that the game "gave players on Sega and Sony’s machines a chance to explore 42 brightly colored levels’ worth of Argonaut’s take on the Mushroom Kingdom, earning the company a bestseller of its own in the process."
The PlayStation version of Croc: Legend of the Gobbos sold over a million copies in the US, and was a bestseller in the UK for 2 months. It was Argonaut Games' best-selling title.